The typical conference consists of a series of PowerPoint presentations that tend to render participants passive. Students of learning have long abandoned the transfer model that underlies such one-way communication. We propose an al-ternative theory of conferences that sees them as a forum for learning, mutual inspiration and human flourishing. We offer five design principles that specify how conferences may engage participants more and hence increase their learning. In the research-and-development effort reported here, our team collaborated with conference organizers in Denmark to introduce and facilitate a variety of simple learning techniques at thirty one- and two-day conferences of up to 300 participants each. We present ten of these techniques and data evaluating them. We conclude that if conference organizers allocate a fraction of the total conference time to facilitated processes that engage participants in various forms of reflective conversation and knowledge sharing, they may enhance the satisfaction and learning-related outcomes experienced by their participants.
International Journal of Learning and Change, 2011, Vol 5, Issue 1, p. 84-98